Boulder-based creator Ciera Dykstra is building a zero-waste fashion empire founded on sustainability, humanity, and individuality.
The wearable art of Ciera Dykstra sends a compelling message, that we need to have empathy for ourselves, others, and our environment. In a world where we are continually trained to think and act otherwise, such as simple notion is radical. We buy new clothes because if, or when, they tear, we can just buy more. We're starting to think more about how food ends up on our tables, but still, rarely spare a thought for how clothing ends up on our bodies. Shifting gears and changing our (un)natural inclination towards expendability is not easy, but it is the way forward.
Fashion culture can not only be detrimental to the environment and the humans that make it but the humans that wear it. Ciera Dykstra is reversing this culture by championing unconditional body love and challenging us to think outside the limitations and labels of gender binaries, sexuality, body shapes, sizes, and colors.
Ciera's company, Zany Art, produces jewelry hand-crafted from real fruit slices, one-of-a-kind upcycled jackets, and original paintings. As an artist, model, entrepreneur, and inspiring human being, Ciera shows us the true beauty and joy found in just being yourself.
Meet Ciera Dykstra, the creator of Zany Art.
How have your Alaskan roots influenced your art and ideas?
I think that where I grew up has had a heavy influence on my artwork, but that wasn’t Alaska. Although I was born in Alaska, I had a unique childhood where I grew up traveling and living in a variety of states in the west of the US. Through interacting with different people, landscapes, and cultures, my art has consistently developed and evolved. How does a focus on sustainability enhance your creative process?
So often sustainability can be viewed as a limitation, as it makes it harder to find supplies, packaging, and more. I have found that these limitations have fueled my creativity though. Creating fashion and art that is sustainable forces you to step outside of the box and challenge the groundwork that was previously laid for business and art. I try to create intersectional artwork that not only tackles problems from lenses of body image, racism, toxic masculinity, environmentalism, human trafficking, and more, but I strive to keep this in mind during the process as well. You can’t talk about sustainability without talking about racism, sexism, colonization, capitalism, and consumerism. I try to limit my consumption, utilize sustainable supplies and methods, and continue to educate and innovate the way my business affects the communities that I benefit from. I have also found that people find joy in artwork and fashion that is sustainable, and I love seeing and experiencing that break from a toxic world with my customers.
How does gender play a role in your art?
Gender has not played a huge role in my artwork until recently. I think that is the beauty of artwork, as our styles are always evolving, and right now I think my artwork is beginning to explore gender more, as I explore it myself. Specifically with my recent series called Body Talks. I challenge our understanding of our bodies and challenge my viewers to redefine how they define the naked truth. I want us to question how gender is fluid and work to re-educate and redefine gender identity as we move away from the classic western definition. As an artist assigned female at birth (AFAB) and recently identifying as non-binary, I have experienced sex-based discrimination in the art community. After starting my business at age eighteen, I had many other professional artists who judged and critiqued how I hadn’t been to art school, hadn’t run a business, and didn't have a formal education. Because of my gender, and the way I presented myself, I have had places try to take advantage of me, swindling me out of money, good spots, and promotion. Social justice plays an important role in your art and business model. How have current events impacted your art and ideas?
I feel like I could write a forty-page paper about this topic. I am going to approach this question through the lens of my own privilege and how it has affected how I have built my business. I feel that oftentimes white queer artists excuse themselves from the fight toward equality, equity, and sustainability because we can argue that we fall under a marginalized umbrella that limits our ability to do so. Yet, so often our art plays a part in movements that destroy communities that we draw support and inspiration from directly. From being commissioned to paint murals in areas that are being gentrified, to the abstract street art style that has made its way onto our iPads, custom clothing, and Instagram feeds. Even though I am broke and queer, it is not me who is experiencing the brunt of climate change, governmental violence, underfunded education, and so much more. This has shaped my business model since the beginning. Sustainable business is not easy, and it is more expensive to run, but it is worth every penny for the future that my business and others like mine are working towards. Social justice is a term that is not just for those of us marching in the streets. Social justice is an idea that we should all be tying into our work whether it is running a small business, being an accountant, making clothes, and literally whatever field you are in. You are currently studying International Affairs and Political Science at college. What is your dream role?
Too many, some would say ;)
My long-term goal has always been to help conduct foreign affairs between the United States and other nations. US foreign affairs have greatly influenced our world today through the spread of violent ‘democracy,’ consumerism, capitalism, monogamy, western thought, militarization, and the erasure of culture. I believe that as a nation we have a long path to heal these relationships with other nations, and it is necessary to have people who understand bureaucracy as well as the importance of non-western, non-violent politics. We have not lived in a world so globalized and so educated in history and I hope to help be one of millions to facilitate a more cohesive and accepting world stage where violence is not the driving force. What do you envision for the future of fashion?
The fashion industry is the third-largest contributor to greenhouse gases and waste in the world. Fast fashion is slowly becoming one of the largest enemies of progress we have seen. I hope for, and pray for a future where fashion is not contributing to the destruction of our world. I believe that the core of fashion is beautiful, as a means to show culture, individual expression, emotions, and so much more. Fashion has evolved into a damaging force, but I do believe that fashion holds a key for innovation. As I previously mentioned, sustainability and limitations like this are drivers of creativity and innovation. I think innovating and changing the way that the fashion world conducts business holds many solutions to the problems that our world is facing.
Facebook: Zany Art
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